TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian law enforcement police forces in the northwestern province of West Azerbaijan have seized near 13 tons of illicit drugs since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 2013 – February 19, 2014), a provincial police chief said.
West Azerbaijan’s Police Chief General Yahya Sharafi said in the last 11 months police forces in the province have disbanded 100 rings involved in drug-trafficking activities and seized a total volume of 12.75kg of illicit drugs.
He said the clampdown on drug traffickers followed extensive intelligence operations in several locations.
Over 5800 drug dealers were arrested in the province during the period the commander said.
In recent decades, Iran has been hit by drug-trafficking, mainly because of its 936- kilometer shared border with Afghanistan, which supplies over 90% of the world’s opium, the raw ingredient of heroin.
The United Nations has estimated in the past that opium trafficking accounts for up 15 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, but the figure is expected to rise as international military and development spending declines with the NATO withdrawal at the end of 2014.
Iran is on a major transit route for drugs being smuggled from Afghanistan to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the country’s war on drug-traffickers has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police forces over the past 34 years.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Iran is netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined.
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